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Some professors ask students to include research paper citations in their research paper. A research paper citation is a small note documenting the source where a quote or paraphrased saying comes from. How to write a research paper citation greatly depends on the citation style the student is using. Every citation style, including MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, and Turabian have their own unique way of writing a research paper citation. Normally, the professor will state in the requirements and guidelines the citation format that should be used.
A lot of students tend to confuse a research paper citation with a research paper reference. Certain times, an "in-text citation" is the same thing as a research paper citation. A research paper citation exists within the actual paper itself and not at the end, like a research paper bibliography. A research paper reference is the source that is cited within the research paper citation. All research papers need to have both research paper citations as well as a formal list of all research paper references, either known as the "Reference Page," "Works Cited Page," or "Bibliography Page."
When assigned with writing in APA style, every research paper citation is presented using parenthetical notation - the citation is written between two parentheses. This parenthetical notation is often placed at the conclusion of the sentence where the reference was cited. When using APA citation style in a research paper, every single research paper citation needs to include the last name of the author and the year the resource was published. When the research paper is quoting material and not just paraphrasing it, the research paper citation needs to include the page where the quote is located. For example, if a student quotes an author with the last name of Brown in their paper, it needs to be written in this fashion:
- A researcher asserted in their article "Though difficult, using appropriate citation style is important" (Brown, 2005, p. 72).
- However, if the student makes reference to the author in the paper, the research paper citation will look somewhat different:
- Brown (2005) asserted "Though difficult, using appropriate citation style is important" (p.72).
If is important to remember that the year a source was published needs to always follow the author's last name. It does not matter if the name of the author is used in the sentence or inside a parenthetical note.
MLA style, much like APA style, also uses parenthetical notes for every research paper citation. However, there is a difference. MLA style does not require the publication year to be included. But, unlike APA style, no matter if a quote is used or if information is paraphrased, the page number is always listed. Like APA style, if the student mentions the author's name in the actual sentence, it does not need to be included in the research paper citation.
- When the author's name is present in the sentence, the research paper citation should always look like this:
- Brown asserts, "Though difficult, using appropriate citation style is important" (72).
- When the author's name is not present in the sentence, the research paper citation should always look like this:
- A researcher asserted in their article "Though difficult, using appropriate citation style is important" (Brown, 72).
- Take a look at how with MLA style there is no "p." before the page number, it is just listed.
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